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State sues Huntington Beach over low-income housing

Governor Gavin Newsom and the State of California have accused the city of refusing to amend its housing plan to add more low-income housing. According to a report from KQED, this state law drafted in 2017 addresses the fact that California has more homeless than any other state as well prohibitively expensive housing costs. It is the first time that the governor has chosen to enforce it.

City claims law on its side

The city’s attorney claims that there is an appeals court ruling that deemed that cities with their own charter (there are 52 such cities across the state) and plans to address the housing issue could approve them even if they do not meet the state’s law. The city also claims it is within its right to eliminate areas zoned for low-income housing. As a side note, this dispute involving sovereignty has also carried over into the issue of the state’s sanctuary law, which limits the states cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Low-income housing on the rise

Despite the suit by the governor and the state, the city has increased the number of low-income units: it has approved 2,500 new units since 2014, which includes 100 low-income units. This is 400 short of the amount required by law. While Huntington Beach falls short, the state is reportedly 90 percent compliant.

Battling philosophies at issue

This battle is ostensibly about the cities’ and the state’s rights and can apply to a wide range of issues, such as the aforementioned safe haven law. The radio station also pointed out that issue is also an outgrowth of the battling philosophies between the state’s Democratic Party (which favors state enforcement) and their Republican counterparts (which favors the rights of each city to control their laws).

Attorneys can help public employees and public entities like the state, municipalities, school districts and colleges wade through complicated sovereignty issues such as these. This is often done through strategic negotiation, but litigation may be necessary if the two parties cannot come to an agreement.

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